The Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA), has written President Ferdinand Romualdez M. Jr. (PFRMJr), through the Department of Agriculture (DA) undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, appealing for the president to issue an Executive Order (EO) “to further lower tariffs on pork imports for another five years to help address rising inflation and food security concerns.” Specifically, the EO requested will further reduce the import duty rate on pork at 5 percent in-quota and 15 percent out-quota for 5 years.

MITA was quoted saying “Since the conditions surrounding the issuance of EO 134 persist, we believe there is no need for DA to petition the Tariff Commission anew.” EO 134, signed by then President Duterte in May 2021, provided that in-quota pork imports or those under the minimum access volume (MAV), are slapped with a 10 percent tariff for 3 months and increased to 15 percent in the remaining months. This is lower than the original rate of 30 percent. The EO was issued amid spread of African swine fever (ASF) and the adverse effects in pork supply then.

Likewise, EO 171 was then signed last May 2021, which extended the 15 percent in-quota and 25 percent out-quota tariff rates for pork until Dec. 31 that year to bring down prices and stabilize the supply of pork in the country.

I think that PBBM was being reasonable to have kept the headship of the DA given the multifarious problems inherited from the Duterte administration. The mandate of DA is crucial to the economy and lives of Filipinos which need 24/7 management. My 1 cent suggestion is to de-load the agency from functions that includes the aquatic resources management – create a Department of Fisheries.
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